Stanford vs Hawaii Odds, Prediction: Expect Friday Night Fireworks
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Stanford running back EJ Smith.
Stanford vs Hawaii Odds
The feel good college football story of 2023 may have already started before Week 1.
Dealing with heavy variables off the field from the Maui fires that have personally touched so many in the program, Hawai'i represented the island respectfully with a close loss to Vanderbilt in Week 0.
The Rainbow Warriors covered nearly every minute of the game, continuing a hot covering streak dating back to October 2022.
Entering his second season as head coach, Timmy Chang has been aware of the outside noise talking about low expectations around the program. With a near upset of an SEC team, Hawaii now returns home to a renovated Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex to face off against another Power Five program.
After failing to win more than four games over the past four seasons, Stanford will go in a new direction with the resignation of head coach David Shaw. Troy Taylor is now set to coach his first game for the Cardinal after previously spending time as the head coach of Sacramento State.
Taylor has spent the majority of his 30-year coaching career in the state of California with other stops as offensive coordinator at Utah and Eastern Washington.
Taylor won three Big Sky titles, along with two Big Sky Coach of the Year awards. With a 30-8 record at the FCS level, Taylor will now revamp a Stanford roster into new personnel and schemes in an attempt to match the offensive success he achieved at previous stops.
Stanford achieved success for many years under Shaw, implementing heavy personnel groupings with man-blocking schemes. The Cardinal's success relied on a grizzled offensive line, along with towering tight-end targets that could win any 50/50 ball.
Shaw preferred as many players in the box as possible, opting for a pro-style scheme that involved the fullback.
Taylor enters with an updated flavor of offense, similar to TCU and Tennessee in running a stretch Air Raid. The quarterback and wide receiver RPO he utilized at Sacramento State will now be a staple of the Stanford playbook.
As training camp came to an end, Taylor elected not to name a starting quarterback.
Syracuse transfer Justin Lamson has the inside track to starting under center at Hawaii after he never saw the field behind Orange starter Garrett Shrader.
Running back E.J. Smith missed most of last season with injury but showed elusiveness in 2021, averaging 4.6 yards after contact.
There's been plenty of high praise for Taylor's offense coming out of camp, using tempo with pre-snap motion and counters to create chunk plays. Sacramento State averaged 23.6 seconds per play last season, a number that would be a top-15 pace in FBS play.
Taylor named Bobby April the Willie Shaw Director of Defense last December. The defensive coordinator last served five years at Wisconsin, learning the schemes of Jim Leonhard. April is expected to produce multiple looks from 4-3 to 3-4 mixed with cover 1 and quarters coverage from the secondary.
Stanford returns less than half of last year's tackles and pass breakups but is expected to have an aggressive blitz package, as April helped call a Wisconsin scheme that sent blitz on 33% of snaps.
Hawaii's near upset of Vanderbilt in Nashville was justified in the box score after Week 0. Similar to last season, the Rainbow Warriors averaged 25 seconds per play for a top-35 tempo.
Quarterback Brayden Schager completed 27-of-35 passing attempts for 351 yards, as the offensive line allowed just four hurries the entire game. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Pofele Ashlock lit up the Commodores' secondary, catching all seven targets for 127 yards.
Hawaii more than doubled the national rate in explosive drive percentage, also achieving two or more first downs in 6 of its 11 possessions.
— Hawaii Football (@HawaiiFootball) August 27, 2023
The Warriors also received contributions from the defense despite giving up 35 points. Hawaii logged nine tackles for loss, including three sacks.
Vanderbilt recorded a single explosive drive and posted 1.22 fewer yards per play than Hawaii.
More surprising was the Warriors' run defense, which limited the Commodores to just a single run over 20 yards. They stuffed 14 of Vanderbilt's 23 rushing attempts, doubling the national average.
Stanford vs Hawaii
Betting Pick & Prediction
Chang will bring his squad home from the mainland on short rest for a home opener against a completely rebranded Power 5 team.
The run-and-shoot offense is back on the island and will now face a Stanford secondary that's short on experience. Both projected starting cornerbacks and safeties for the Cardinal have less than two-dozen career tackles with minimal game experience.
The explosiveness of Ashlock and Steven McBride proved to be a problem for Vanderbilt, and without a proven pass rusher on the Stanford defense, the Warriors could generate even more explosives.
The unknown for this game comes in the Stanford offense with three different quarterbacks expected to take snaps. Taylor's offense will feature the same concepts as Sacramento State, asking offensive players to limit Havoc in a scheme that will show heavy motion and counter concepts.
The expectation is that Stanford will generate explosive plays based on concept alone, as Vanderbilt posted 7.9 yards per play in passing downs against the Warriors.
The pace is expected to be furious, as Stanford moves from a bottom-15 pace to a top-15 pace. Vanderbilt had no issues scoring in its opportunities, averaging 5.3 points on four drives that extended beyond Hawaii's 40-yard line.
With the projected pace of play, each offense is expected to find multiple scoring opportunities, along with explosive plays and quality drives.
Although Hawaii posted unders in nine games last season, the regression may come on overs for the Warriors in 2023.